Commemorating Gideon’s 50th Anniversary

This week marks the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Gideon v. Wainwright, in which it recognized that the right to counsel is a fundamental right that is binding on the states.  As the many posts and discussions honoring the day reveal, it’s probably appropriate to label the occasion a bittersweet one:  sweet, because the decision was so obviously right, but bitter because of the lost promise of what might have been.  We are better off with the right to counsel, without doubt; but resources, volume, and politics, among other factors, have created problems with the quality of counsel received by many.


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